China joins U.S.-led naval drills off coast of Hawaii for first timeUpdated: 2014-06-26 14:16:17 (KST)
For the first time ever, Chinese naval ships will be firing gunshots off the coast of Hawaii, INSIDE U.S. maritime territory, as part of multi-nation naval drills.
The biannual naval exercise dubbed RIMPAC begins Thursday with a total of 23-countries taking part.
Four Chinese ships, including a missile destroyer, and more than 1-thousand Chinese military personnel are already in Hawaii.
The exercises come amid tensions, as Beijing continues to assert itself in its maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas while Washington seeks to reinforce its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S.-China relations have also been strained by U.S. claims of cyber espionage by Beijing.
China rejects Washington's accusations.
The U.S. government says it invited China as a means to ease tensions and boost naval cooperation between the two countries.
In a recent report to Congress, the Pentagon said it would continue to monitor China's evolving military strategy, doctrine, and force development, while building the foundations of a stronger military-to-military relationship with Beijing.
China's attitude towards the U.S. has softened with the invite.
In the run-up to the drills, China's deputy naval commander stressed the importance of the world's two superpowers establishing stronger military ties.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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